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Media Analyses

HuffPost Arabi Corrects: Trump's Trip Not the First Flight From Arab Country to Israel

CAMERA has prompted correction of a HuffPost Arabi article which incorrectly reported that President Trump's flight this week from Saudi Arabia to Israel was the first direct flight from an Arab country to the Jewish state.
As CAMERA reported yesterday, the May 22 news story in Huffington Post's Arabic edition began with the erroneous assertion (CAMERA's translations throughout):
For the first time in history, an aircraft coming from an Arab country landed in Israel, when US President Donald Trump's direct flight from Saudi Arabia arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
While President Trump's flight was the first known direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel, it is not the first direct flight from an Arab country to Israel. Multiple flights every week, virtually every single day, fly from Amman and Cairo to Tel Aviv. Air Sinai flies from Cairo and Royal Jordanian flies from Amman.
As for previous presidential direct flights from other Arab countries to Israel, The Washington Post reports:
Two previous U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, had flown directly from Syria to Israel, but no sitting U.S. president has made the trip from Saudi Arabia directly before.
American diplomats have also made the Syria-Israel direct trip before. As former State Department official Nicholas Burns recounted to Bloomberg:
During 1995, Burns was on a team led by then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher that was trying to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

“In one week we flew every day -- it must have been seven or eight days -- between Jerusalem and Damascus,” Burns said. The cities are about 135 miles (217 kilometers) apart, roughly the distance from Washington to Philadelphia.

“It took no time to get there. But we were the only ones who could fly that route. No Israeli and no Syrian could fly that route.”

In addition, as Eugene Kontorovich tweeted, flights carrying Jews fleeing persecution in Arab countries flew directly to Israel, as in the Yemeni case of Operation Magic Carpet.
HuffPost Arabi editors quickly agreed with CAMERA that a correction was needed.
The corrected first sentence now states:
For the first time in history, a plane coming from Saudi Arabia landed in Israel, when US President Donald Trump's direct flight from Riyadh arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
Moreover, editors commendably noted (screen shot below) the correction prominently at the top of the article stating:
A previous version of this article that Trump's flight was the first from an Arab country to Israel. It was corrected to state "for the first time a plane coming from Riyadh to Israel."

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